Suggested Retail Price $895
LifeDop is a line of fetal dopplers created by Summit Doppler, a Colorado based medical company. Though this is their first offering the founders of Summit were also the founders of Imex medical who produced such models as the CareDop and the Elite 200 also reviewed by us. Viasys/Nicolet purchased Imex some years ago and thus Summit 's emergence to the marketplace.
Though the line of LifeDop fetal dopplers encompasses many different available options all the units retain the same design elements. For our purposes we reviewed Summits top of the line fetal doppler the LifeDop 250AR complete with every available feature offered by Summit (digital display, digital audio recorder, interchangeable probes, rechargeable battery).
On initial inspection we see the LifeDop shares many design features of Nicolet's Elite 200 model. With probe storage on top of the unit, detachable cord and probe, display positioning, volume control etc.. I guess the old saying the apple doesn't fall far from the tree applies here as Summit didn't stray far from what it knew. As we pointed out in the review of the Elite 200, we don't like the exposed probe storage on top of the fetal doppler unit and feel that in this case it's even more of a liability for the transducer than on the Elite 200 as the longer probe extends out on either side of the main unit.
One of the most interesting and intriguing options available with the LifeDop is the built-in digital recording feature. By simply pressing a button during an exam you can record a 32 second sample of the fetal heartbeat. This feature, though easy to use, we actually found to be of very little use. In our studies we found no reason to have the fetal heartbeat stored directly in the unit and are quick to point out that with all fetal dopplers on the market one can hook up a basic audio-audio cord to any battery powered recording device such as a tape recorder or laptop computer to make a recording of the heartbeat. Armed with a digital file or recording of multiple sessions of the fetal heartbeat is when a recording or the heartbeat would become useful. One could begin comparing heart rates and examine for any abnormalities, send a recording to your physician, or provide your patient with a keepsake of the recording. Summit Doppler's decision to include a built-in doppler recording device we assume was more a marketing decision aimed at the rental market rather than a valid diagnostic use.
The LifeDop, like the line of Nicolet fetal dopplers, has a detachable probe and cord. Summit offers a variety of probes to choose from ranging from a 2mghz waterproof obstetrical probe to an 8mghz vascular probe.
A final note on design- we had a very difficult time extracting the 3AA batteries from the back of the unit and where only able to dislodge them with a flat head screwdriver. This is a small item but would be easy to correct and unfortunately was overlooked by Summit in the testing phase and makes the doppler a little less user friendly than we'd hoped.
As with all the other fetal dopplers in our study we began listening for the fetal heartbeat at 8 weeks. The earliest we found the heartbeat on any of our test patients with the LifeDop was 10 weeks. The sound was clear and signal was strong. About half or our expecting mothers found the heartbeat by 11 weeks and all could hear the fetal heartbeat by 12 weeks. The LifeDop performed well throughout our test period and gave us clear sound with accurate heart rate readings. We gave the LifeDop fetal doppler an 8 out of a possible 10 and would recommend passing on the recording feature as you can easily record with any doppler on the market.
Other than the before mentioned design issue with the exposed transducer we found no issues with this units durability. We expect this unit would serve any physician or expecting parent well and though the unit only carries a 15 month warranty the apparent strong construction of the unit we expect would last an extended period of time.
- Digital display
- Detachable probe
- Low battery indicator
- Headphone jack
- Rechargeable battery
15 months material and workmanship